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Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-1987
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Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-1987

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  872 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Veil is the story of the covert wars that were waged in Central America, Iran and Libya in a secretive atmosphere and became the centerpieces and eventual time bombs of American foreign policy in the 1980s.
Paperback, 592 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1987)
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3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  872 ratings  ·  59 reviews

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Apr 06, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I will be blunt and honest on this: this book bored me to tears. I like Bob Woodward. I like the reading of espionage. But somehow the two didn't work together here. It also has something to do, I think, with how Woodward concentrated on the inside politics themselves and not international espionage itself. But that's just how Woodward writes. Nevertheless, I don't recommend it.
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Long, detailed, yet fascinating account of the covert ops in Latin America and the Middle East in the 80s, including the politics, personnel, and media coverage.
Aug 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book, instead of being called The Secret Wars of the CIA should have been called, how DCI Casey Dealt with the Secret Wars of the CIA. Short on actual detail about the dealings, the repercussions, and the actual on the ground information, it was a political book. A book focused on the insiders of Washington trying to cover what they were doing and how they did it. I found that to be interesting, but not what I had expected or wanted from the book. The only "secret war" focused on in brief pa ...more
Apr 13, 2013 rated it liked it
A book on the dirty covert wars of the Reagan era, this has the usual Bob Woodward saws: insider gossip, palace intrigue and a few scoops along the way. I have a lot of problems with Woodward's method, since so much of what he offers ends up being the self-serving perspectives of those whose access he must have to write his books.

One passage I underlined, which is classic Woodward and modern journalism, describing the relationship between CIA director William and deputy director Max Hugel, both
Erik Graff
Feb 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: US citizens
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
This is my favorite of Woodward's instant insider history books. Very little of it was new, but much of what it reveals was little reported by the mainstream press before its publication. Little was new, exepting Woodward's citations of the man himself, Casey, as regards the criminal deeds of his--and Ronald Reagan's--administration. Casey himself, of course, saw nothing wrong with extralegal murder, contravention of domestic law or international treaty.

Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I only made it 200 pages (less than halfway) into this one before I gave up.
Despite the "secret wars" title it's less about American foreign policy than it is about office politics, internal squabbles and back-stabbing. There's an endless parade of indistinguishable men with similar sounding job titles arguing with each other about methods and targets. I found it hard to follow the actual challenges they were facing in terms of projecting American power abroad. It's all very complex, which I'm s
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
A really interesting story, especially the bit about Libya (I had no idea they were so belligerent in the 80s). On that front, I did wonder whether the Lockheed bombing was connected to CIA actions, as it seemed most Libyan terrorism was a response.

The only reason I’m not giving this 5 stars is that there was very little about Mexico and using the cartels to run guns down to the contras. Perhaps that was not out in the open when this book was written, but I was looking forward to reading about
Jun 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
Joan Didion's essay "Political Pornography" applies to this book.
Greg Dion
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Very interesting, but it gets bogged down for prolonged periods.
May 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Unusually poor storytelling, at least in comparison to what is expected from Bob Woodward. Too many pieces that don't seem to flow together into anything cohesive.
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
The secret wars of the CIA that all occurred in Washington. Boring & such a let down
Brad Smith
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Bob Woodward's look into the Reagan administration's secret intelligence operations in Nicaragua during the 1980s. Woodward characterizes Director of Central Intelligence Bill Casey as a zealot doing the wrong things for the right reasons. Casey believed that the Soviets were primarily responsible for funding of terrorism. However, this may have been CIA black propaganda itself that led to this conclusion.

As the 1980s dawned and Reagan stepped into power, the Americans had suffered a number of
Sep 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: "Resistance fighters" in need of funding.
Shelves: cia, history
Bob Woodward's "Veil" is a history of the CIA's involvement in secret wars, particularly in Central America, under the direction of William J. Casey. The revelations are startling, and coming after CIA admissions exposed during the Church inquiries of the late 70's, the book's account of potentially illegal activities on the part of the agency are entirely believable if not astonishingly brazen. Although many critics claim Woodward had to have invented or fabricated some of his interviews in the ...more
Dec 11, 2008 rated it liked it
This book is long and detailed (maybe a little bit too detailed) and gives insight into how the intelligence organizations in the United States really work.

Emboldened by a newly elected president Ronald Reagan and a newly appointed Director of Central Intelligence, the CIA used the cold war and fears of communism to gain support from the public for covert activities around the world.

Because of a somewhat rocky relationship with Congress, the CIA often couldn't find legal ways to accomplish wha
Fred Kohn
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ronald-reagan
Well, for Pete's sake! How does one rate such a book? The content was wonderful, but I can't stand this guy's narrative style, which Wikipedia describes thusly: "Woodward attempts to construct a seamless narrative of events, most often told through the eyes of the key participants." In this case this means that the narrative swings wildly through Iraq, to Libya, to Nicaragua, back to Iraq; with various CIA scandals peppered throughout to keep you guessing. Woodward also has no qualms about weavi ...more
J.f. Dargon
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I used this book as a resource, and although it is nearly a biographical essay on Reagan's CIA Director William Casey, I found in it the essential reasons for why the end of the 20th century closed as it did, and why America became embroiled in Iraq. This book is a historical stepping stone for those who wish to understand today's Mideast troubles, as well as why certain religious fundamentalists groups arose there. It must be remembered that the Cold War with the Soviet Union was still ongoing ...more
Jun 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Although I enjoyed the look-back into Iran-Contra and all the conflicts leading up to big event, this was a very rough read for me. I love reading Woodward, but this book was different than other Woodward books -- it seemed that I could only read 25-30 pages during a sitting as it slowly reconstructed events in Central America, Libya, Israel, Iran and other spots that lead to Iran-Contra. It was also a focus on Casey, who Ronald Reagan appointed as CIA Director. From is appointment as director i ...more
Apr 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
This wasn't quite as well written as Woodward's later book that I also read recently, on the Iraq War, but it was pretty good nonetheless. Makes Reagan out to have been pretty out of it. According to this, he installed his guy at the CIA, gave him pretty much carte blanche to mess around just about everywhere, and then paid no attention. He only worked Mon through Thurs afternoon! Crazy.
It's also interesting to read about a time when we felt we had to fight the commies in every backwards corner
Tom Schulte
This work bristles with detail on Reagan era CIA hijinks. There is so much detail it takes nearly 600 pages to relate it all. The focus is really on the misguided arms for hostages deal and how Casey and North went too far with Reagan's complicit approval, if obtained after the ball was rolling. other highlights include for me early troubles with Qaddafi, the invasion of Granada, mining harbors in Nicaragua (first public disclosure of an out of control CIA) and the duplicity of Mubarak around th ...more
Donna Davis
I couldn't wait to read what I was certain would be incisive journalistic discovery and reporting by one of the famed Watergate reporters (the other being Carl Bernstein). The account was well written, but there was a veil over the reporting as well as the CIA activities. The title is fierce, but the reader might sense that somewhere along the line, Woodward was taken aside and told that not every cause was a great one, that he would seem somehow more credible if he equivocated, didn't show too ...more
Oct 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
An intriguing look "behind the scenes" of the CIAs covert operations in the 1980s and the political, policy and philosophical battles that went into them. Does the intelligence service exist to simply gather intelligence so policy makers can set policy and determine actions or does it exist to undertake actions to influence events outside our borders? That much covert action focused on Central America during the cold war of course made the read all the more interesting since I live in Central Am ...more
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A very well written book and account of historical significance. Many persons I knew that worked for the CIA were upset at this book, the author, and the complete environment within Washington DC at the time. It happens to be one book that I read that I have an uncanny ability to recall for some unknown reason (this is sort of a laughable point with people that have known me for many years).

I recommend this read and you the reader draw your own conclusions. The most telling reason this book is s
Anup Sinha
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
Bob Woodward's sterling reputation proceeds him and this book is backed with incredible research. It was just a tough read for a non-politician like myself but I still got something out of it as far as an understanding of how the CIA works and some of the international issues during Reagan's presidency. If you are looking for a narrative, this is not your book. If you want facts and hardcore documentation, it will deliver.
Feb 15, 2016 rated it liked it
The challenges,difficulties, and politics surrounding the CIA and it's role in a Cold War world are on display in this book touching on Afghanistan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Iran, Grenada and the Saudis, during the early to mid 80s, with a healthy dollop of soviet intelligence skirmishing thrown in.

Eye-opening details of the approach and relationship of the Washington Post with a host of politicians (not to mention the networks for leaking).
Andy Perdue
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been meaning to read this book since it came out when i was in college. Once again, Bob Woodward shows why he is the pre-eminent journalist of the 20th century (and beyond). There is a lot of painstaking detail here, but the story of how the Reagan administration deceived the world with the Iran-Contra Affair required it. The insights on Lebanon and Libya were especially enlightening.
Ardita Çaesari
Mar 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: indonesian
I read the Indonesian translation back sometimes in 1989. The book was poorly translated and I couldn't understand much. "The Spycatcher" was far more better translated than this one.

However if you want to walk down the memory lane with "Ollie North" and the whole Lybian terrorism, this is the one to read.
Cullen Hencke
Mar 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting to read an "insider's" guide from a time period when I was in pre-school. Perhaps, as a result, not as enjoyable as it might've been otherwise... Though that's certainly not Woodward's fault.
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Such a good book, so many years passed but it's still relevant.
And it's actually hilarious how much the KGB general Rem Krasilnikov (in 1980s in charge of countering CIA in Moscow) directly copied from this book when the time came to write his own memoirs!
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Started off well and as though it was a crime novel however in the middle it started to tale off and was concentrating on too many facts like a reference book! Still it went back to it's original style towards the end! All in all not a bad read and helped pass the time on the commute to work!
Reuben Herfindahl
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Pretty good read, and probably one of the better books on understanding Iran/Contra. Although it's more a book about Bill Casey than anything else. At times it gets a bit too deep in the weeds of who knew what when, but understandable after Watergate.
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Robert "Bob" Upshur Woodward is an assistant managing editor of The Washington Post. While an investigative reporter for that newspaper, Woodward, working with fellow reporter Carl Bernstein, helped uncover the Watergate scandal that led to U.S. President Richard Nixon's resignation. Woodward has written 12 best-selling non-fiction books and has twice contributed reporting to efforts that collecti ...more